Finding the one-year lectionary

So where do you find this one-year lectionary? Lemme tell you: that’s not a question often asked on the left-hand-side of the Christian family, where there’s either a value placed on the ecumenical convergence three-year lectionary or where it’s a moot or alien question. It’s prospering best in conservative Lutheran and breakaway Anglican circle, from what I can see. That doesn’t dissuade me. (Then again, you can say the same thing about Geneva bands if you add conservative Presbyterians.)

I first look to the 1866 Universalist A book of prayer for the church and the home (Google Books) which stands in the center of the now little-known Universalist prayerbook tradition. The pastor of the First Universalist Church, Providence, Rhode Island and friend, W. Scott Axford, identifies in its collects a subtle and pervasive tenderness that, in his assessment, distinguishes Universalist liturgics. (I hope I’m not misinterpreting him, as this came from a discussion some years ago; he’s quite thoughtful and precise on these matters.)

The collects — pronounced with an emphasis on the first syllable — are important because they synthesize and “collect up” the thoughts in the lessons.

But the fact that there’s so much overlap between the one-year lectionaries means that it’s useful to examine them for variations. Go back 45 years or so, and the in-use Anglican lectionaries would work, including the 1928 prayerbook that can be found on the web and for a song at many a used bookstore. I also consult the not-online Free Church Book of Common Prayer (1929) which is loosely connected to British Unitarian-inspired Free Catholicism, the subject of many other blog posts. One prayer book that uses the traditional forms with modern idiom is the 1965 (Anglican) Melanesian English Prayer Book and I consult it occasionally. Then, too, is the old Church of South India worship-book, of which I have written much. Of course, the current U.S. Episcopal church has a one-year cycle of collects, and that’s a big part of the one-year appeal.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. The independent sacramental jurisdiction of which I’m a part includes some folk who prefer the one-year lectionary — we are fully inclusive of women and lgbt people, but tend to be more traditional theologically and include more liturgically traditional folk among our numbers: We are tiny, but we do offer some alternatives to the anti-gay, anti-women traditionalists vs. sexually inclusive but anti-traditionalist model that tends to dominate larger churches.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.